SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) — Angel McCoughtry found a way to become No. 1 — in the WNBA draft.
Two days after her Louisville Cardinals were beaten by Connecticut in the national title game, the All-American forward was chosen by the Atlanta Dream with the No. 1 overall pick.
It’s been quite an emotional few days for McCoughtry.
“I have no complaints,” she said Thursday. “This is the best thing in the world. This is the best position to be in.”
The 6-foot-1 McCoughtry averaged 22.8 points and 9.5 rebounds her last three years and led the Cardinals to an upset of Oklahoma in the Final Four before losing to undefeated UConn in Tuesday night’s title game.
“I want to thank Atlanta for believing in me and believing we can take this program to another level and contend for a WNBA championship,” she said.
Atlanta, 4-30 in its first season, appears vastly improved after setting a league record for losses. The Dream added former All-Stars Chamique Holdsclaw and Michelle Snow, as well as Nikki Teasley and Sancho Lyttle in the offseason.
Meanwhile, UConn’s Renee Montgomery was the No. 4 pick by the Minnesota Lynx.
Washington took Maryland’s Marissa Coleman with the No. 2 pick. The 6-foot-1 forward averaged 18.1 points and 8.6 rebounds while helping the Terrapins reach the NCAA regional semifinals.
“It means a lot,” Coleman said. “Just kind of seals the deal as hard as I’ve worked to get to this point.”
Coleman grew up in Maryland and her college campus was about 30 miles from the Mystics’ home arena.
“It’s exciting to play in Washington, in front of my family and friends,” she said.
Maryland teammate Kristi Toliver was selected next by Chicago after averaging a team-high 18.4 points, 4.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds.
Montgomery had career-bests of 16.5 points and 5.1 assists while helping the unbeaten Huskies to their sixth national championship.
“It’s been a busy couple of days, but for the right reasons,” Montgomery said. “This is obviously an exciting time. I’m trying to take it all in.”
Auburn’s DeWanna Bonner was taken by Phoenix at No. 5 and Arizona State’s Briann January went to Indiana with the sixth pick. Sacramento selected Oklahoma center Courtney Paris, the first four-time AP All-American, at No. 7.
“I’m so excited, I never even thought about the potential of getting back to California and having that opportunity to play in front of my friends and family again,” said Paris, the daugther of former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Bubba Paris.
New York took Rutgers’ Kia Vaughn with the eighth pick, and the Lynx picked Virginia Commonwealth’s Quanitra Hollingsworth with their second selection.
Rounding out the first round, it was: Duke’s Chante Black to Connecticut at No. 10; Pittsburgh’s Shavonte Zellous to defending champion Detroit at No. 11; California’s Ashley Walker to Seattle at No. 12; and Purdue’s Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton to Los Angeles at No. 13.
Paris’ sister, Ashley, was considered a possible first-rounder, but slid down to the Sparks in the second round with the 22nd overall pick.
Teams will open training camp May 17, exhibition games will begin May 21 and the league’s 13th season will start June 6.